Saturday, July 27, 2002

Fifth-Third president donates for friend




By Gina Holt
Enquirer contributor

        PARK HILLS — The president and CEO of one of the Tristate's largest banks pulled out his checkbook Friday to contribute to the Kenny and Brian Williams Fund at Covington Catholic High School.

        Though he was glad to help, it's one $125,000 check that Fifth Third Bank president George Schaeffer Jr. — a friend of the brothers' father since West Point, — would probably rather not have to write.

        The fund memorializes the two brothers, both CovCath graduates, sons of Mr. Schaeffer's friend Ken Williams. Both died young and tragically: Kenny at 26 after falling from a Cincinnati overpass, Brian at 29 in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.

        “The tragedies that the Williams family has had to endure are more than one family should ever have to go through,” said Timothy P. Rawe, president of Fifth Third Bank, Northern Kentucky.

        The CovCath scholarship fund, started by Ken and Kate Williams after Brian's death in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, is now over $450,000.

        “Mr. and Mrs. Schaeffer's donation to the Kenny and Brian Williams Fund will leave a lasting impression as Covington Catholic continues to provide an outstanding education for young men in our community,” Mr. Rawe said.

        Most of the fund's current assets have been earmarked for the Covington Catholic capital campaign as the school raises money for a massive new construction and expansion project.

        Ken and Kate Williams' oldest son, Kenny, was coming home from a Cincinnati Reds' game when he fell about 30 feet onto Third Street. He spent more than three years in a coma before he died at age 26 in 1994.

        Brian Williams, a Columbia University grad and Cantor Fitzgerald stockbroker, was 29 when he died in the Sept. 11 attack.

        “It started out that we were just going to help the school. So many people who aren't part of this CovCath group helped out with the fund. We are going to have some distributed to other places outside the Covington Catholic community,” Mr. Williams said.

        Mr. Williams and Mr. Schaeffer met while attending West Point. They were in each other's weddings and have stayed friends.

        Mr. and Mrs. Williams said they are touched by Mr. Schaeffer's generosity.

        “It's great,” Mr. Williams said. “George is one of my closest friends. He offered to help back in September. George, like he always does, came through with a great, generous contribution.”

        Mr. Schaeffer is among many who want to keep the Williams boys' memories alive.

        “The Greyhound Tavern had a night where all their profits went to the fund,” Mr. Williams said. “They raised $17,000 that night. The (Thanksgiving-time) benefit raised over $100,000 last year.”

        Fifth Third Bank also initially donated $125,000.

        “We're really grateful for all the support we've received from all our friends and people we don't even know,” Mr. Williams said. “The kindness toward us has been amazing. Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky is a great place to live.”

       



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